In her piece, “You Owe Me,” Miah Arnold tells the audience what it’s like working as a teacher at a children’s cancer center. She talks about the children–some stayed for years while others only stayed for a few months, many of them died. Arnold brought up a really good point in her essay; children who die aren’t “saints” or “angels” and to expect so much from them is sick. She writes about how ashamed she was a few years later, remembering how she thought she found “faith” at the hospital. She tells us about Khalil, a boy who she got really close to, since he spent 5 years at the hospital. She talks about how he was so full of life. He was crazy, quirky, a nutjob, she talks about how he should live “long past thirty-five.” It broke my heart when she surprised the reader with his death. I thought about how so many people sensationalize the death of children, when in reality it is disrespectful to their memory. People remember them as strong, resilient saintly children with hope, but many times they aren’t that. When you do this to a dead child, you are tainting their memory in a way by not remembering them as they truly were. I think she realizes that she did this to the first kid that died in the cancer center where she was working. She talked about how he had a certain joy inside of him, how he was accepting of death. She realized that she wasn’t remembering him for who he was. Arnold mentions the other teachers in the hospital–she talks about how so many of them have put up defenses and won’t talk about Khalil’s death, and that really spoke to me. People do this all the time. I like how she made us, the readers, really connect to the children in her stories. When she talked about how Almirah had scabs on her face, and then later found out she had fallen and scraped her face, “just like any little girl could,” I was *so* relieved. This was a really touching piece.
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